If you have a prescription for medical cannabis, you might be thinking about telling your friends and family. We’ve put together a handy guide on steps you should take when talking to your friends and family about medical cannabis.
Talking to your friends and family about medical cannabis may be a difficult conversation to have. You might worry that they will only hear ‘drugs’ and not ‘medicine’. For some, the risk of reaction from friends and family is enough to make you think twice about telling them, which is natural. It’s perfectly okay to wait until you are fully ready to discuss your medical condition and medication. When that time comes and if you feel nervous, this guide will help you start these conversations.
If you’re planning to talk to your family or friends about medical cannabis, it can help to have a plan of action. It’s important to choose the best setting to speak to your friends and family. Sometimes this might be easier to do on a one-to-one basis. Talking to each friend or family member individually can feel less confrontational and pressured. However, it does mean you may need to have several conversations rather than one big one.
Another option is to gather those you want to tell as a group. This can feel overwhelming, but it also means everyone will be able to share and address any questions with you in a group setting. You may find it helpful to confide in a trusted individual, who can then help support you if you decide to speak to your friends and family as a group.
It’s essential to be in a space that you feel safe in and try to do it where everyone is relaxed.
Medical cannabis is a broad term used to refer to any medical products derived from, or related to, cannabis. In legal terminology and medical field they are often referred to as cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs). CBMPs were legalised for use on prescription in November 2018.
Your friends and family may already be aware of your medical condition and the journey you have been through with various forms of treatment. If they aren’t aware, knowing this can help their understanding of your situation. Explaining why you need a specialist medication and why other forms of treatment have not been successful can help show why you and your doctor have decided that medical cannabis is the right option for you currently.
Yes, medical cannabis is legal in the UK if a doctor has prescribed it for you initially. The doctor must be a specialist prescriber and registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK since November 2018.
You need a prescription to get medical cannabis and to see your specialist prescriber, when required, for follow-up appointments.
Your friends and family may also have questions about where you are getting your medication from. Helping them understand that you have spoken to many different medical professionals to reach this point in your treatment journey can be helpful. It’s a medically supported, highly regulated process.
You can access your latest clinic letter to provide support for your prescription of medical cannabis. Medical cannabis goes through rigorous quality control and regulations to ensure that the medication you receive is consistently safe to take, and of high quality.
You may find it helpful to familiarise yourself with common questions friends and family members may have. You’ll know your friends and family better than us, so thinking about what questions they might have and planning responses for them can help keep your conversation moving in a positive direction.
If you have children or are regularly around children, questions may be raised about how to ensure the medication is used safely. Just like with any other medication, it should be stored in a cool dry area that is inaccessible to children.
There may be concerns that doubt your legitimacy for needing your medication, that perhaps you have used your medical condition to be prescribed medical cannabis for recreational purposes instead of medical reasons. Unfortunately, this can be a genuine concern for some people and can have very hurtful implications. Reconfirm that you have had a serious medical condition, that you have sought help for a long time, and that there are a lot of checks and regulations in place to ensure that those who are prescribed medical cannabis need it for their medical conditions.
This might echo with worries you may hold about not deserving your treatment or that you should be ashamed of your medication. It’s important that you know that this isn’t the case and that you are looking after yourself and your body the best way that you can.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical within cannabis most known to have a risk of addiction. However, it’s important to know that this risk is much lower than the risks of addiction with other medications, such as some opioid-based painkillers. The levels of THC in medical cannabis are much lower than those found in recreational cannabis. This means that the body is less likely to become tolerant to the effects of cannabis, reducing the likelihood of withdrawl and addiction. Clinicians work closely with patients to effectively monitor for signs of addiction or withdrawal and support you with the most appropriate treatment for your symptoms.
Your friends and family may have questions about how medical cannabis can affect your mental health. Whilst there have been concerns about the risk of psychosis due to cannabis consumption, most of these studies have looked at those using recreational cannabis rather than medical cannabis at prescribed doses. Consequently, this risk is thought to be less in medical cannabis patients.
Actually, many Sapphire Medical patients are prescribed medical cannabis for mental health conditions, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Another question your friends and family may have is how you are funding your treatment. They may have limited knowledge of the cost of cannabis, based on their understanding of recreational cannabis. At Sapphire Medical, we work hard to ensure that we can offer our service and treatment options at the lowest price possible to make treatment accessible and affordable for as many people as possible.
A further question could include problems you might face with the police and law. Whilst recreational cannabis is still illegal in the UK, medical cannabis prescribed by a specialist doctor is legal. Having paperwork such as a letter from your specialist doctor, keeping your medication in its original container with the pharmacy label visible, along with a form of ID, is evidence that police may request.
The main medical cannabis products available on prescription are normally one of two types:
Dried medical cannabis flowers are also known as flos, which is the Latin word for flower.
Medical cannabis oil is used under the tongue, and dried medical cannabis flower is used in a vaporiser. A vaporiser heats up the dried medical cannabis flower, so it can release the active compounds in a vapour that you can then inhale.
On a medical cannabis prescription, the specialist prescriber will write the strength of active ingredients that need to be present in the medical cannabis product. The active ingredients in medical cannabis are THC and CBD.
Sometimes, no matter how prepared you are or how detailed you answer questions, some friends or family members may not be accepting of your medical choices. They often need time to process this new information, and their worry most likely comes from a place of concern. Always remember that your viewpoint is valid and you are doing the best for your health. It’s okay to set personal boundaries if you feel overwhelmed or unheard.
Here are some charities you can speak to if you feel unsupported or need relationship advice on your friends and family.
Here are some quick tips to help you when talking to your friends and family about medical cannabis: